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Rubio: My Economic Plan Will Create ‘Another American Century’.


Image: Rubio: My Economic Plan Will Create 'Another American Century'

By Joe Battaglia

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida outlined his plan to improve the economy Monday, continuing an attempt to shift focus from his failed immigration overhaul to his policy ideas.

Speaking during an afternoon forum hosted by Google and the Jack Kemp Foundation, Rubio advocated changes he said would create high-paying, middle-class jobs while ushering in “another American century,” with reforms such as an overhaul of the tax system, an increase in trade and research opportunities, and advances in the technology sector.

“While we are facing the full brunt of the disruptions created by the economic revolution [of the 20th century], its opportunities are not reaching quite enough Americans,” Rubio said. “The enormous challenge, the fundamental challenge before us, is to help people overcome these challenges and to access the promise of our time. Achieving this is going to require us to replace the antiquated policies and institutions of the last century with ones built for this new era.”

Rubio said that for the United States to position itself to win in a new global economy, wide-ranging transformation is needed in Washington, and he outlined three main avenues for reform.

The first is to enact policies aimed at fostering innovation.

Rubio argued that while the American people produce 35 percent of the value of the world’s goods despite composing just 4 percent of the global population, we would be doing even more except that “Washington has put up a blockade of restrictions and regulations and taxes that prevent innovators from accessing the full range of opportunities afforded by the American free enterprise system.”

His plans for collapsing those barriers call for preserving Internet freedom, expanding access to the wireless spectrum by selling it to private companies through federal auctions, and promoting technology development at the Department of Energy.

“We want to build projects and companies that not only change our lives and the numbers in our bank account but that change the world and change it for the better,” Rubio said.

After spurring innovation, Rubio said Washington’s second avenue of reform must be the expansion of markets for U.S. products and services by actively engaging in the global economy.

He pushed for the White House to be given “trade promotion authority” to expedite international trade deals; called for increased cooperation between federal research agencies and the private sector; and urged creation of a “national regulatory budget” that would be established by an independent board and would require the government to measure and offset the costs of any new regulation.

“We need trade policies that make it easier for our products to make it to a global network of consumers,” Rubio said.

Rubio said the United States must not lose sight of the fact that it is in constant competition with other global energy producers, and called for a repeal of the ban on crude-oil exports and for streamlining the regulatory review process for natural gas pipeline development.

“The interstate highway system of the last century helped foster an explosion of economic opportunity,” Rubio said.

“What we need now is an interstate energy pipeline system because it can have a similar impact on our economy. Unlike the interstate highway of the 1950s, the private sector, not taxpayers, can and will pay for this new system.

“What they need from government is a reduction or elimination of the regulations that are preventing the private sector from doing this now.”

Rubio said the country’s third avenue for reform should be on how to make it the best country in the world in which to invest. Hindering that from happening is what he said is the highest combined corporate tax rate of any advanced economy on the planet.

“If you combine federal and state taxes, our corporate rate is nearly 40 percent,” he said. “The global average is under 25 percent. Just on taxes alone it is more expensive to invest in creating jobs in America than in most other developed countries. If we stick with the status quo, what we risk is losing the next great American company before it even has the chance to begin.”

Rubio’s proposals call for sweeping reforms of the tax code, including a decrease in the highest corporate tax rate, immediately allowing companies to deduct all their expenses and expenditures from their taxable income, and allowing companies to avoid U.S. taxes on earnings made and taxed abroad.

“Under the current tax system, the safe thing for companies to do is leave [their money] in the bank,” Rubio said. “We see evidence of this in the fact that American businesses are sitting on an estimated $4 trillion to $5 trillion in uninvested cash. That is more than the size of the entire German economy. That is over twice the size of the Russian economy. Instead of this money being invested to grow and hire, it’s just sitting there.

“Under the changes we are working on, the more a business invests, the less the government takes away from them. That serves as a powerful incentive to invest, to grow, to hire, and to give their workers raises.

“We no longer have the luxury of wasting time on the failed promises of big government or the divisive rhetoric of class warfare,” Rubio said. “The world around us is changing quickly, and we have waited far too long to change with it.”

Rubio, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, wants to rebuild his image after he angered conservatives last year by leading a push for a major overhaul of immigration laws that many on the right viewed as an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The son of Cuban immigrants, he was dubbed the “savior of the Republican Party” by Time magazine last year but is having a hard time ingratiating himself with GOP conservatives, The Wall Street Journal reports. Most of his proposals on Monday are likely to garner support from other conservatives.

Rubio finished seventh in a straw poll of possible presidential contenders at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Last year, he came in second to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who also won this year’s poll.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Portman: Senate GOP Jobs Plan Will Restore Economy.


A seven-point plan proposed by Senate Republicans will spark economic recovery in the United States, reduce unemployment rates, and help tighten the gap between wealthy and poor people, Sen. Rob Portman says in this week’s GOP address.

The Jobs for America Plan, the Ohio Republican said Saturday, “starts by getting government out of the way where we need to, whether it’s healthcare, regulations, or taxation.”

Experts said five years ago the recession had ended, but for millions of people, the nation’s economic downturn has continued.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Story continues below video.

“We’re living through the weakest economic recovery since World War II, and a lot of folks are struggling to make ends meet,” said Portman. “Unemployment remains stubbornly high; the number of long-term unemployed is actually at record levels.”

“The wealthy are doing just fine in the Obama economy,” said Portman. But declining paychecks and with rising costs of healthcare, college education and even a tank of gas, “this middle class squeeze is strangling the American Dream.”

He pointed out out that 11 million Americans have given up looking for work altogether, and the average family is “now bringing home $4,000 less than they did just five years ago.

The Obama administration’s policies aren’t working, said Portman, because “Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress believed we could spend our way to prosperity, and I guess they still do.”

But despite some saying that “fewer people working, smaller middle-class paychecks, bigger government, never-ending deficits and record debt piled on our kids and grandkids” is the “new normal,” Portman said it’s time to trust the American people again.

“That’s what’s at the heart of Jobs for America, a seven-point plan put forward by Senate Republicans to bring back opportunity, spark an economic recovery and restore to every American a shot at the American Dream,” said Portman. “It starts by getting government out of the way where we need to, whether it’s healthcare, regulations, or taxation.

For example, said Portman, it’s clear to “just about everybody, maybe except the president” that Obamacare isn’t working.

“Let’s replace Obamacare with reforms that put you back in charge of your own healthcare,” said Portman. “Decisions about your health should be between you and your doctor, not a bureaucrat and an insurance company. Let’s expand choice, rather than limiting it. Let’s create jobs, instead of destroying them. And let’s bring down the costs instead of driving them up.”

Bureaucracy and red tape are also hindering businesses and making it harder for them to create jobs, and Portman said Republicans have “proposed changes that will ensure that the benefits of regulations are worth the cost – that regulations do their job, without costing you yours.”

The nation’s tax code is also a problem, said Portman. It’s not just that it’s a “complex and expensive mess” that needs to be simplified, but also that “our out-of-date and inefficient corporate tax code is driving opportunity and investment overseas, creating jobs in other places that should be right here in America. Let’s fix the code so that every company pays its fair share while bringing those dollars back to our shores to expand plant, equipment, and jobs.”

Taxes should also be spent wisely, said Portman, and lawmakers need to “pass a balanced budget amendment to rein in the runaway, big government spending that drives our deficits.”

The United States also needs to expand overseas markets, said Portman. There are some trade agreements on hold for now, but the nation needs to be sure it is competing on a level playing field. This calls for giving the president the authority to open more markets for farmers and workers.

“We want to see people around the world buying products that are stamped, ‘Made in America,’ so we can create more jobs right here at home,” said Portman.

Jobs can also be created by making the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that is often discussed come through.

“We should wage a war on inefficiency, but not a war on coal,” said Portman. “We should expand all forms of American energy, including through offshore drilling and developing our shale natural gas. And let’s finally approve the Keystone Pipeline to create jobs and speed the day when North America will truly be energy independent.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Portman also said Americans should be able to acquire the skills they need to get jobs that are available.

“The federal government now runs 47 different, often overlapping, workforce-training programs, but they aren’t closing the skills gap,” said Portman, because they have too much bureaucracy.

“America’s best days can be ahead of us, just beyond the next horizon,” said Portman. “We just have to reapply some of the principles that have made America that beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world.”


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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala 2015 would be brutal for economy.


 

ABUJA—THE Coordinating Minister for the economy and Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo –Iweala, yesterday disclosed that with the country’s election looming, the 2015 would be a tough and brutal year in maintaining a strong macroeconomic performance the country has recorded in recent times.
Okonjo–Iweala, however, assured that she is determined to ensure that the country’s strong macroeconomic performance of recent years and reform agenda do not slip.

The finance minister who realises that she will be targeted by opposition politicians jostling for power ahead of elections in February 2015

and keen to denounce the government’s economic policies said, “It will be brutal,” she tells The Banker in Abuja, “We’re going to see extreme bashing. Somebody has to be the scapegoat,” she added.

According to her, “Nigeria’s strong macroeconomic performance in the past five years has seen its standing abroad rise considerably. Many frontier and emerging market investors crave exposure to the oil-rich West African country’s rapidly growing economy and population of 170 million, by far the largest in Africa.

Jim O’Neill, the influential former Goldman Sachs chief economist, has dubbed it, alongside Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, a MINT – a group whose global significance he believes will only increase.”

Yet for all the hype,  Okonjo-Iweala knows that investors will be watching Nigeria closely to see that its reforms and its fiscal and monetary record do not unravel in the run up to voting.

To help ensure that does not happen, she has proposed a largely conservative budget for 2014. It forecasts a small deficit of 1.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and is based on a real growth rate of 6.75per cent , which is slightly below the International Monetary Fund’s estimate. Total spending will be reduced by 7 per cent from 2013 to N4640billion ($28.5billion).

BY PETER EGWUATU

Source: Radio Biafra.

Restaurants Across US Now Charging Diners An Obamacare Tax Surcharge.


RELATED STORY: BOMBSHELL! IRS Warns Obamacare Tax Will Be Forcibly Taken From Your Tax Return

Some restaurants have made the decision to charge customers for Obamacare: Gator’s Dockside restaurants in Florida have added a 1% Affordable Care Act surcharge on their diners’ tabs, while at least one popular restaurant in Los Angeles has added a 3% charge to bills. –

obamacare-tax-now-being-added-to-restaurant-checks

In Florida, The Gator Group told CNN Money that the company had to implement “the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it’s facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate kicking in in 2015.” So even though their employees won’t get health insurance coverage until December, customers are feeling the pinch now.

The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors,” the sign [in the restaurant] reads. “Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.

The Gator Group employs 500 people, half of whom work part-time. Right now, they only offer health benefits to management. Instead of cutting their full-time employees to part-time to avoid the mandate as so many restaurants have chosen, the Gator Group decided to simply charge customers the added costs.

“I’m just trying to keep the employees I have that I’ve worked hard to train,” Sandra Clark, the group’s director of operations told CNN Money:

In addition to the costs of providing health care, the company hired one additional staffer and a consulting firm to make sure it is complying with the law and to assist in the additional tracking of workers’ hours and wages required by Obamacare.

In Los Angeles at the upscale restaurant Republique, customers have not always reacted positively to the ACA surcharge appearing on their bills.

One customer wrote: “1 star for the 3% healthcare surcharge. An employer who really cares about their employees’ health pays for this themselves. But because you and I both know that I’m finically [sic] well off your [sic] going to mandate me to pay for what YOU think if a great idea? You might fool other customers into believing that you truly care about your employees health but your [sic] not fooling this customer.”

So, companies are passing the costs of Obamacare on to the consumer. Economists totally did not see this comingsource – CNS News

by NTEB News Desk

Economist Morici: Obama’s Minimum Wage Hike Will Cost Jobs.


A leading economist says the Congressional Budget Office is correct when it says President Barack Obama’s increase in the minimum wage for federal workers will lead to massive job losses.

“In the past when we’ve raised the minimum raise, it’s merely been to catch up with inflation,” Peter Morici, a professor of international business at the University of Maryland, told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“But the president is talking about a 40 percent increase. Going to McDonald’s is going to be like going to the Automat. They won’t be able to afford their people out there for you, or they’ll be closing McDonalds,” he said Wednesday.

Story continues below video.

The increase, to $10.10 per hour for federal workers, will also have a ripple effect, Morici says.

“What they didn’t tell you, though, is if you raise the wages of 16 million Americans by $4 to $5 an hour, someone’s going to be charging higher prices and those wages won’t be worth what they’re worth today,” he said.

“So, a lot of this will be dissipated by inflation. What’s more, the economy will grow more slowly and Mr. Obama will have less real dollars to pay all of his welfare programs.

“The programs that these people depend on, like Medicaid and food stamps and so forth, will be under increasing stress because, guess what, the president has discovered he can’t cut defense any more.”

See “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

DeMint: Republicans Had Little Choice on Debt-Limit Vote.


Last week’s debt-limit vote brought criticism from many conservatives, but Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said he believes Republicans did the only thing they thought they could do.

“It was a defining vote this week,” DeMint told NBC “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer. “I think it showed that all the Democrats in Congress were completely willing to give the president a blank check to borrow whatever he wanted. Most of the Republicans weren’t.”

However, the former South Carolina GOP senator said, Republican leaders, like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have figured out that they either give President Barack
Obama “all the money and debt he wants or he’s going to close the government down and blame it on them. So I think they did what they thought was the only thing they could do.”

Editor’s Note: 
Secret ‘250% Calendar’ Exposed — Free Video

Story continues below video.

DeMint said he doesn’t blame Boehner or other Republicans for their vote, but he also does not believe people who share his brand of conservatism feel well-represented in the nation’s capital, and many Americans, “regardless of political labels,” feel the same way.

“I hear it all over the country and I think that’s why you see a stirring in the country,” DeMint said. “Frankly, people are less interested in the label of Republican and Democrat and they’re tired of that but they will unite around some principles that will give us a stronger economy, a strong society, a strong America… America’s not nearly as divided as it looks like they are in Washington.”

DeMint said he is concentrating on his work with the Heritage Foundation, which is working to promote conservative goals. He said he is not involved in the super PAC he founded, Senate Conservative Fund, which aims to oust moderate Republicans, including making a push this past week to remove Boehner as House speaker.

“We’re less involved with, really, trying to cram anything down the throats of congressman and senators,” said DeMint.

Editor’s Note: Secret ‘250% Calendar’ Exposed — Free Video

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Democrats Plan New End Run Around GOP House on Minimum Wage.


House Democrats are determined to cast an election-year spotlight on Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws.

To try to accomplish that in the GOP-controlled House, Democrats are planning to rely on an infrequently used, rarely successful tactic known as a “discharge petition.”

It requires the minority party — in this case, Democrats, who are unable to dictate the House agenda — to persuade some two dozen Republicans to defy their leadership, join Democrats and force a vote on setting the federal minimum wage at $10.10 an hour.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats will push the wage issue when Congress returns from its break Feb. 24. Forcing a vote on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws could occur in a few months.

Democratic leaders argue that a majority of Americans favor both steps, which are priorities for President Barack Obama, and say the House GOP is the obstacle. Republicans say Democrats are embarking on an approach that they know has little chance of success in an attempt to circumvent the will of the GOP-led House.

The odds are daunting for Democrats in what clearly is political maneuvering ahead of the elections this fall.

Some questions and answers on how it works.

___

Q: What does a discharge petition do?

A: It allows the minority or opposition party to bypass the House speaker and get a vote.

First, 217 members — one more than half the House’s current membership of 432 — have to sign a petition. A motion to consider the wage issue would then be placed on the legislative calendar, but it can’t be acted on for at least seven days. Any lawmaker can then call it up but only on the second or fourth Monday of the month. The motion is debated and if the House passes it, then lawmakers would consider and vote on the bill.

Currently there are 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats and three vacancies in the House. All 200 Democrats would have to sign the petition, but Democrats would have a tough time getting 17 Republicans to join them.

Signing a discharge petition would be a breach of loyalty for Republicans, certain to draw the wrath of the caucus, and a rebuke of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Republicans largely oppose any increase in the minimum wage. They say it’s an issue left to the states and that it could slow hiring in a struggling economy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, acknowledged that Democrats are unlikely to sway Republicans. Yet he also provided a preview of one of his party’s arguments on this issue.

“I don’t think we’re ever confident that we’re going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition, but we apparently have 30 or 40 that are known over here,” Hoyer said at a news conference this past week at the party’s retreat in Cambridge, Md. “Our expectation is if they want to make sure that working people have an incentive to work, they will pay them to do so a wage that does not leave them in poverty.”

___

Q: What about immigration? A number of House Republicans back a comprehensive approach. Would they sign a discharge petition?

A: Highly unlikely. Republicans still are unwilling to break ranks with the party and Boehner, despite the distinctly different political forces on the issue.

Immigration overhaul has the support of an unusual coalition that includes some traditional backers of the GOP. They include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business groups, religious organizations such as the U.S. Catholic Bishops, evangelicals and labor unions.

A few Republicans have expressed support for a comprehensive bill similar to the Senate-passed measure and have pleaded for the House to act this year. They worry about the political implications in their swing districts back home. Yet it would be a remarkable step for some of the more moderate lawmakers from California and Florida to abandon Boehner.

Boehner has come out with principles on immigration that call for legal status for some of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally and has expressed support for a piecemeal approach to the issue. Last week, however, the speaker all but ruled out the House acting on legislation this year, blaming GOP distrust of Obama to enforce any new law.

On the notion of a discharge petition, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, “This scheme has zero chance of success. A clear majority in the House understands that the massive Senate-passed bill is deeply flawed.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a major player on the bipartisan Senate measure, recently pushed the idea of a discharge petition, but the New York Democrat is unlikely to sway the nearly two dozen House Republicans necessary to sign on.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., made clear how Democrats will frame the issue for the Republicans who want immigration overhaul.

“Talk is one thing; actually doing something is another. And I’m sure they’ll have a chance between now and November to let their constituents know whether they’re serious on immigration reform, the comprehensive one, or not,” Van Hollen said.

___

Q: A discharge petition sounds like a tough sell. Has it worked recently?

The discharge petition worked in 1986, forcing a vote on a gun rights bill, and in 2002, ensuring a vote on campaign finance legislation.

The difficulty for a discharge petition in the current political climate was never more evident than last fall in the midst of the 16-day partial government shutdown. Even though several Republicans said they wanted to vote on a spending bill with no strings attached, they rejected the idea that they would join forces with the Democrats.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Dems Hope to Force House Vote on Minimum Wage Hike.


House Democrats said Thursday they will try to highlight GOP resistance to a higher minimum wage with a tactical maneuver meant to bring new attention to an issue they consider a political winner.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her party will push a “discharge petition” when Congress returns from its recess on Feb. 24. If Democrats can persuade roughly two dozen Republicans to sign the petition, it would force GOP leaders to allow a House vote on the wage issue.

Most Republican lawmakers oppose a higher minimum wage. They say it prompts employers to cut down on hiring, a claim Democrats dispute.

It’s by no means clear Democrats can collect enough signatures in the House, where they hold 200 seats to the Republicans’ 232. Three seats are vacant.

Pelosi’s announcement, at a House Democratic retreat in rural Maryland, might displease immigration reform advocates who want priority given to a discharge petition on that subject. Pelosi said a discharge effort may come later for immigration, but “right now we’re starting with the minimum wage.”

Democrats say most Americans favor both a higher minimum wage and sweeping changes to immigration laws. They say Republican leaders thwart the public’s will by refusing to allow House votes on these topics.

President Barack Obama and many congressional Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

An AP-GfK Poll in January found 55 percent of U.S. adults favor an increase in the minimum wage. Just 21 percent oppose it, and 23 percent are neutral.

Democrats say it’s frustrating to see polls show widespread support for their proposals — including a higher minimum wage and an immigration overhaul — even as Republicans appear likely to retain their House majority and possibly gain control of the Senate in this year’s elections.

Some strategists want congressional Democrats to find new ways to underscore their differences with Republicans, and paint Republicans as obstructionists.

“The minimum wage is one of the illuminating contrasts we have,” Rep. Steve Israel, of New York, told reporters at the party’s retreat. He chairs the committee overseeing Democrats’ House races.

Earlier, Republicans dismissed the idea of Democrats getting enough petition signatures to force a House vote on a Senate immigration bill that would grant new pathways to legal status for millions of immigrants.

“This scheme has zero chance of success,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “A clear majority in the House understands that the massive Senate-passed bill is deeply flawed.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he believes nearly all House Democrats would sign a petition seeking a vote on a higher minimum wage. If all 200 Democrats did so, they would need 17 Republicans to join them.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz’s 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid.


Image: GOP Senate Leadership Bucks Cruz's 60-Vote Debt Ceiling Bid

After a dramatic Senate tally in which top GOP leaders cast the crucial votes, must-pass legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills cleared Congress Wednesday for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The Senate approved the measure by a near party-line 55-43 vote. All of the “aye” votes came from Obama’s Democratic allies.

But the vote to pass the measure was anticlimactic after a dramatic 67-31 tally — held open for more than an hour — in which the measure cleared a filibuster hurdle insisted on by tea party Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. The Senate’s top two Republicans — both facing tea party challenges in their GOP primaries this year — provided crucial momentum after a knot of Republicans in the Senate well were clearly unhappy at having to walk the plank.

Urgent: Do you support Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination for President? Vote Now 

After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, voted “aye” several other Republicans switched their votes in solidarity. Twelve Republicans ultimately voted to help the measure advance but the tally appeared to be in doubt for several anxious minutes.

“A lot of people stepped up and did what they needed to do,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted to advance the bill, as did Mark Kirk of Illinois, who said: “Members didn’t want to” vote for it.

The 12 Republicans who voted against Cruz’s measure were: John Barrasso, Wyo.; Susan Collins, Maine; Bob Corker, Tenn.; John Cornyn, Texas; Jeff Flake, Ariz.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; Mike Johanns, Neb.; Mark Kirk, Ill.; John McCain, Ariz.; Mitch McConnell, Ky.; Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; John Thune, S.D.

Cruz’s demands irritated Republicans because it forced several of them, particularly McConnell, to cast a difficult vote. McConnell faces a May primary against tea party candidate Matt Bevin, whose supporters adamantly oppose increasing the debt limit.

“In my view, every Republican should stand together against raising the debt ceiling without meaningful structural reforms to rein in our out of control spending,” Cruz said.

After the tally, Cruz said he had no regrets, saying the “Senate has given President Obama a blank check.”

Asked about forcing a difficult vote upon McConnell, Cruz said: “That is ultimately a decision … for the voters of Kentucky.”

The legislation would permit Treasury to borrow normally for another 13 months and then reset the government’s borrowing cap, currently set at $17.2 trillion, after that.

It passed the House Tuesday after Republicans gave up efforts to use the debt ceiling measure to win concessions from Obama on GOP agenda items like winning approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay bills like Social Security benefits, federal salaries, and payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Quick action on the debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall when Republicans sought to use the critically necessary measure as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts, but Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election, and Wednesday’s legislation is the third consecutive debt measure passed without White House concessions.

Republicans have been less confrontational after October’s 16-day partial government shutdown sent GOP poll numbers skidding and chastened the party’s tea party faction. Republicans have instead sought to focus voters’ attention on the implementation and effects of Obama’s health care law.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay all of its bills, including Social Security benefits, federal salaries, payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers and interest on the accumulated debt. Congress has never failed to act to prevent a default on U.S. obligations, which most experts say would spook financial markets and spike interest rates.

Most Republicans say any increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by cuts to the spiraling costs of costly benefit programs like Medicare.

“We need some reform before we raise the debt ceiling. We need to demonstrate that we are taking steps that will reduce the accumulation of debt in the future,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the Budget Committee. “And the president and the Democratic Senate have just flatly refused. So they’ve just said, `We’ll accept no restraint on spending’.”

Some Republicans seemed irked that Cruz wouldn’t let the bill pass without forcing it to clear a 60-vote threshold that required some Republicans to walk the plank and help it advance..

“I’m not going to talk about that,” said Orrin Hatch when asked if Republicans are annoyed with Cruz.

Passage of the debt limit measure without any extraneous issues comes after House GOP leaders tried for weeks to find a formula to pass a version of their own that included Republican agenda items like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of an element of the health care law. But a sizable faction of House Republicans simply refuse to vote for any increase in the government’s borrowing abilities, which forced House Speaker John Boehner to turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to pass the measure on the strength of Democrats.

The debt measure permits Treasury to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015, putting the issue off until after the November elections and setting it up for the new Congress to handle next year. If Republicans take over the Senate, they’re likely to insist on linking the debt ceiling to spending cuts and other GOP agenda items, but for now at least, the issue is being handled the old fashioned way, with the party of the incumbent president being responsible for supplying the votes to pass it but with the minority party not standing in the way.

“I think we will go back to the responsible way of making sure that our country does not default,” said Democratic Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray.

Senate action Wednesday would safely clear the debt issue off of Washington’s plate weeks in advance of the Feb. 27 deadline set last week by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The debt limit was reset to $17.2 trillion after a four-month suspension of the prior, $16.7 trillion limit expired last Friday. Lew promptly began employing accounting maneuvers to buy time for Congress to act.

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© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Sen. Hatch: GOP Health Plan Makes Financial Sense.


The GOP health plan proposal “makes sense from the financial standpoint” as an alternative to Obamacare, a law that will eventually run the country into bankruptcy, Sen. Orrin Hatch said Thursday.

“We’ve got to come up with a consumer-based approach that really gets rid of Obamacare, but also makes sense from the financial standpoint,” the Utah Republican told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”

“What people don’t realize is, the Obamacare is going to run us right into bankruptcy. We won’t be able to pay for it,” he added.

Story continues below video.

The GOP alternative, called the Patient Choice Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act, or CARE, was introduced by Hatch and co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina. He said his bill would keep some of the more popular aspects of Obamacare, including health coverage for pre-existing conditions and children being able to stay on their parents’ health plan through age 26.

Hatch said the bill takes out the costly mandates, taxes, and regulations in Obamacare, and shifts the management of healthcare to the states. He described it as a “consumer-based program” that saves money because it gets “rid of the bureaucrats … in Washington, and all of the government processes that just eat up funds right and left.”

Obamacare was “not going to work,” Hatch said, and explained one problem with the law was that it pushed costs into Medicaid. He said the GOP bill would “reform Medicaid and make it work again.”

“In the future, [Medicaid] is going to be unfunded, and we’ve got to find some way of … completely rehabilitating Medicaid. And we do that in our bill,” he said.

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By Wanda Carruthers

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